In the end, it was a dose of reality that appealed most to Kay Koplovitz. Reality Central founders Larry Namer and Blake Mycoskie managed to persuade the cable industry veteran to head the network partly on the basis of its straighforward concept. “You just have to say” the name to explain it, says Koplovitz, the former USA Networks founder, chairman and CEO, chair of the National Women’s Business Council, Cable Hall of Famer and winner of awards too numerous to recount here. Since stepping down from USA five years ago, her mailbox has been stuffed with new network business plans, but none excited her. When it came to Reality Central, she was struck by the possibility of reaching a large, devoted audience that loves to give feedback via cell phone or text messaging. The genre “has its own subculture much the way Sci Fi has its own subculture,” she says. “More than programming, it’s community.” That sense of community could go a long way with advertisers. The network already has signed up two charter sponsors; Koplovitz declined to disclose them. After she saw the plan for Reality Central, talked to its founders and did her own due diligence, she agreed to join the board and take the chairman position. She was also granted an equity stake in the network, which was formed with the help of private investors. Along with developing strategy and partnerships, she says she and the network’s team are in the process of bringing in new strategic investors. Despite the difficult market conditions any new network faces, she says Reality Central has the potential for “big distribution.” Two undisclosed MSOs have agreed to carry the network, and Koplovitz says the strength of the relationships she and the two founders have in the industry and the reality genre’s strong core audience should give it an edge. The network was announced in June and was initially slated to launch in January 2004 with a mix of original programming and reruns of international reality shows, but Koplovitz says she wanted to have more elements in place before going ahead. Those elements include third-party marketing deals—such as full-page ads in reality-friendly magazines In Touch, Star and Soap Opera Digest—and a more significant program bank under license. The network is now set to launch by mid-2004.

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